Powers & Perils
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Powers & Perils (1984) by Richard Snider was scheduled for release at Origins 1983; instead the convention was filled with empty demo rooms where the game was to have appeared, and the game finally rolled out early in 1984. Powers & Perils was published by Avalon Hill as a boxed set containing five books (60 pages, 52 pages, 52 pages, 44 pages, and 24 pages respectively), a pad of character sheets, and dice. Avalon Hill's house organ magazine Heroes supported Powers & Perils and the company's other role-playing lines.
Powers & Perils is an exceedingly detailed fantasy system, with skill-based character abilities and a spell-point magic system. There are five rulebooks: the 44-page "The Character Book" covers character creation, skills, and experience; the 52-page "The Combat and Magic Book" covers combat rules, movement, magic, and spells; the 60-page "The Creature Book" describes the surface and underworld, encounter tables, and fantastic creatures; the 52-page "The Book of Human Encounters and Treasure" covers NPCs, treasure, and magic items; and the 24-page "County Mordara" is an introductory scenario.
A second boxed set contained information on the world, named Perilous Lands, in the form of three books: "The Map Book", "Sites of Power", and "The Culture Book". Subsequent expansions were printed in Heroes magazine and an adventure for high-level characters, Tower of the Dead, was released in 1984.
Powers & Perils was an unfortunate failure for Avalon Hill, despite their reputation for their high-quality productions; this failure was indicative of the company's lack of experience in the roleplaying field. Powers & Perils included several drawings plagiarized from fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. Avalon Hill had no previous experience with role-playing games, being primarily a producer of strategy and war games such as Tactics II, Blitzkrieg and Squad Leader, and Powers & Perils died before its time. Overpricing and strong competition from the first edition Dungeons & Dragons saw P&P on store shelves at two to three times the price being asked for its contemporaries.
Due to the general failure of Powers & Perils, Avalon Hill allowed the line to die after a few supplements were published in 1984.
In the September 1984 edition of White Dwarf (Issue #57), Adrian Knowles gave it an overall rating of 8 out of 10, saying, "Overall, P&P introduces some nice ideas which can be adapted readily into other systems. The game is more suited to experienced players and GMs since it is fairly complex. In general, a greater amount of work than is normal for an RPG is needed for playing Powers and Perils, but it is a good system."
In the October 1984 edition of Imagine (Issue 19), Mike Dean stated that "I have my doubts as to whether P&P will make it as a widely popular RPG, but I am sure it will gain a considerable and well-deserved following."
In the January–February 1985 edition of Different Worlds (Issue #38), Troy Christensen was unimpressed, giving the game a below-average rating of 1.5 stars out of 4, and saying that the game "is lost in the limbo somewhere between the complexity of Chivalry & Sorcery and the simplicity of Dungeons & Dragons." Christensen found issues with character generation, which he said: "takes about ten times longer than most fantasy games." He then found combat too simplistic, and commented that "With a combination of simplicity and complexity mixed so unequally and haphazardly, the game seems ungainly and plays roughly." He concluded with a negative recommendation, saying, "Powers & Perils to me adds nothing beyond what I have found in other more established games."
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- Knowles, Adrian (September 1984). "Open Box". White Dwarf. No. 57. Games Workshop. p. 13.
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